A news summary of discontent

Posted by Ian

"Are we facing a summer of discontent?" a BBC news presenter wondered, earlier this morning.

NOOOOO! If there’s one journalistic cliche above all else that gets me riled, it’s that one. Every single time there’s industrial action in this country, or some people go on strike, no matter how localised or isolated, this particular hoary old lazy verbal chestnut is dusted down for another outing.

It’s partisan. It’s disingenuous. It’s also very very bad reporting. In fact, there’s a whole school of wayward and biased language that seems to be deployed by the press whenever there’s an industrial dispute in the UK.

The people involved in the strike are always making ‘demands’. They never ‘ask’ or ‘campaign’ for something. Stoppages are never ‘discussed’ or ‘planned’, they are always ‘threatened’. Heads of trade unions are called ‘bosses’ or ‘barons’, to make them sound corrupt and unaccountable. The consequences of their actions bring ‘chaos’ and ‘misery’ – without any consideration given to the chaos and misery in the lives of the strikers that has driven them to take action in the first place. And everybody else ‘suffers’ from a strike, regardless of public sympathy or differing shades of opinion.

In short the entire media establishment has an in-built bias against people taking industrial action, using loaded language and judgmental terms that are on the side of business and employers and against workers and employees.

You might think this is how it should be. You might say: tell me something I don’t know. Alternatively you might want to check out the work of the Glasgow University Media Group, who have been exploring and documenting this issue since 1976.

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80 Responses to A news summary of discontent

  1. David A. says:

    Why is it that everybody treats public sector workers as if they aren\’t also members of the public and tax payers as well?  I\’m sick of hearing the employers say that "the workers" are letting down the public – we ARE members of the public!  In many areas the local councils are the biggest employer and so its their own staff who pay a huge amount of council tax to keep their own services running!  If you sacked all the strikers on the spot, how long would services take to recover?  How long would it take to find hundreds of thousands of replacements who are actually as dedicated to public services and work damn hard for no recognition or thanks?

  2. gareth says:

    Why is it public sector workers think they are different to the rest of the tax paying public, everyone else is accepting below inflation pay increases because of the situation the country is in but public sectors are completely unaware of this and go and demand 6% as if the current problems do not apply to them. it is simple if you do not like your pay or conditions get another job… but no you wouldn\’t do that because you all know you are on a cushy number don\’t you?

  3. Jay says:

    Hahahahaha…….so no different from anyone else then!!!! The only thanks i want is me pay at the end of the month as per my contract when i agreed to accept the job.
     
    And you are correct, they are dedicated workers and also usuially the largest employers in any area…….they are extremely efficient in collecting money, lots of it…..but the streets are stilll a mess, the parks littered, roads in a state, dedicated bin men leave a trail behind them etc etc. If any other large private sector service did the same on that scale they would not be in business!!!

  4. Unknown says:

    Wasn\’t it Lord Rothermere who said "give them something to hate".  That\’s been the ethos of the Daily Mail ever since. Conflict, hate prurience etc sell papers, good news doesn\’t.  Soldiers are "our boys" when in action and "mindless thugs" if they get into bother on leave.  Likewise nurses are "angels" except when they want more money.  Don\’t forget that the newspaper industry had very severe problems with what can only be described as utterly corrupt unions and working practices, (connived at by equally corrupt owners), prior to the eighties-remember Wapping or the 1 year long Times strike? That being so, there may be an element of continuing revenge in the anti-union stance of so many papers.  Plus, unions are seen by many people as politically motivated thugs and bullies, and their public persona does little to correct that impression.  For example, why is the FBU run by Far Left/Communists, when the membership will generally reflect the normal political views of the nation?  However, isn\’t it strange that thuggish and bullying behaviour by lorry drivers over fuel prices is actively promoted and supported by the press?
    Never expect morality,or truth, from reporters and newspapers-they\’d sell their wives and daughters into prostitution for a scoop! story!

  5. gareth says:

    "I haven\’t been on holiday for 23 years – I\’m disabled"  life is about choices everybody starts out in this life with the same oportunities your husband chose not to get a decent paying job along with the half a million whingers who went on strike yesterday and anyway with the inept government we have you will all get handouts and get things for free to top up your measely £6 an hour which is paid for by the extortionate taxes that I pay for all the lowly paid and layabouts and the hundreds of thousands who claim disability which is another word for lazyness, "disabled" you are still capable of doing many jobs but you choosa not to and sit at home on you\’re ever increasing in size backside holding out the begging bowl – you make me sick! where is you\’re pride?

  6. Chris says:

     
    The problems with the civil service are productivity and the final salary pension scheme.  Recent studies have shown that Public Sector workforce productivity is only 42% of that of the private sector.  So those employees working in the private sector are paying two people (Via their tax) to do one person\’s work.  And then we have the final salary pension schemes.  How fair is it that the taxpayer has to shoulder the financial burden of the retirement income of civil servants that work less than half as hard as private sector workers?   I know many public sector workers that would not EVER consider working in the private sector because they know they are on a good thing – easy work and good pension.  In the light of this knowledge I find it hard to support their strike action.  Please note:  I am referring to local council office workers etc – not Teachers / Police / Nurses etc

  7. greg says:

    The vast majority of \’workers\’ in this country don\’t even have the opportunity to strike or even discuss there package they get what the are given and it is very much a case of like it or lump it!!
     
    If you don\’t like your pay / conditions, take control, get a life & get a new job thats what the rest of us have to do… ABOLISH ALL UNIONS.

  8. Jonny says:

    A colleague knows a family who have a child with rather special needs. People say they go into teaching for the love of the profession, not the good money, superb pension, insane holidays etc. This little one\’s support worker decided that the poor child could rot at home because of the demanded pay rise, so that\’s exactly what this child had to do. I have a real problem with that.

  9. Chris says:

    Why can\’t these people go out and get another job if they are worth more money?  The way it works for most people is if you want more you have to try and get promoted or find another company who pays better.  I believe if they feel that strongly then they should leave, market forces would then bring the pay levels up as in any other labour market.  Currently with the government facing such a massive funding crisis and with the very real chance of massive increases in unemployment these people should get back to work and stop interrupting the lives of everyone.

  10. Paul says:

    My views on unions and stikes has changed backwards and forwards over the years from anti to pro and back again. I\’ve been in the miltiary, public and private sectors and have run my own businesses since 1997 and my view now is that the poor public sector workers get a real bad deal from their employers and the media. The employers change terms and conditins of service without penalty, sell the workers on to the private sector or agency operations and generally behave as though they are not bounded by any contract at al. If the workers complain nothing happens, if they work to rule they get blamed for being jobsworths when all they are doing is woring to the letter of their contract and if they srtike – well it\’s the end of the world – according to the media that is. It\’s patent nonsense – what are they expected to do? Doff the cap, touch the forlock and mumble their gratitude for being so ill treated? There was a time when a Royal Commision was established and recomended that all public sector pay should be kept out of the political arena. Fair comparison to outside jobs was to provide the marker for pay but adjustments were made for job security and pension rights – MP\’s salaries were also included in this agreement and pegged to Civil Service Executive Officer
    pay. So no problems? Well there weren\’t – the system worked fine until a certain M Thatcher came to power and scrapped the whole deal giving rise to the current mess about public sector pay and MP\’s daylight robbery. When oh when will the media provide the public with the whole story? Too much to ask?

  11. Trevor says:

    Once again all the private sector well paid idiots biting at the stick and trying to demoralise the people who are willing to do the jobs they aren´t. If you are not happy with the service you recieve then get of you fat lazy backsides and do it yourself, I am nota low paid individual, but  completely support our public sector workers and what they are doing. The truth is some people end up in public secotr jobs because that is their only choice, others make the sacrifice because they value being able to provide a public service. Does this mean that they should be paid the lowest wages and continually be given pay rises below inflation? I don´t think so, so to all you Tory stuck up little twits, get of your own backsides and try some manual labour.

  12. Ken says:

    no name)17 July 10:58
    (http://cid-4081e23ab9a08efc.spaces.live.com/)

    The vast majority of \’workers\’ in this country don\’t even have the opportunity to strike or even discuss there package they get what the are given and it is very much a case of like it or lump it!!
     
    If you don\’t like your pay / conditions, take control, get a life & get a new job thats what the rest of us have to do… ABOLISH ALL UNIONS.
     
    Agreed.
    Journalists should continue with the way Unions and Strikers are portrayed.
    I am sick and tired of the \’pitty me\’ concept driven by this Government and its supporters.
    Choice is for everyone……………DO NOT STRIKE ITS JUST ANOTHER WAY OF BEGGING. Do the decent thing, if your not happy leave and let someone who wants to work have your job, oh and do me a favour \’do not claim benefit\’.
     
    Stop expecting someone else to sort your life out for you.

  13. graham says:

    The orignal intention of this post was to discuss why the newspapers use the language they do about striking workers.
     
    Newspaper owners have to sell a product, and in a country (yes, like the UK) with a free press, commercial neccessity means that reporting reflects the opinion of the readership and therefore more widely within the country.
     
    Looking at the way this debate rapidly changed into one about the right to strike at all, and the opinions posted by those contributing, (who we can presume reflect those of society at large), it should come as no surprise that the papers use the language they do.     

  14. greg says:

     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Trevor
    You must live in a dream world firstly in the main the services we get are rubbish, this is not staffs fault but the massive layers of management, targets, and other headline grabbing spin this LABOUR goverment has put in place.
    Private sector Idiot ehPerhaps a bit harsh, although i must admit i dit not got to uni, I left school a 16 and earnt everything i have off my own back… I have worked in offices, in sales,in warehouse and driven HGV\’s I am more than prepared to do whatever is necessary to better my lot!! Everyone has this choice, the difference is that I took it. Instead of just whinging and demanding that i get a payrise the rest of us could only hope for.

  15. Ken says:

    Well put.
    The reporting reflects the majority of opinion.

  16. mindi_007 says:

    Hiya,
         Firstly as far as I am aware it\’s only council workers that have been striking today and yesterday? I\’m a nurse and I haven\’t been on strike and I\’ve not heard of any strike concerning my profession. There have been protests (peaceful as far as I\’m aware) regarding our below inflation payrise but these get little or no press. The shortage of nurses some time ago will come full circle for reasons that would deviate from topic in hand (I cannot comment on teachers because I do not know their full situation).
     
        To get rid of unions is rather rash; our unions are not just in place to instigate strikes; they assist with personal problems/ work related issues/ support. I\’m in a nursing based union and it gives access to further study days and journals.
     
        I do think however that UNISON have timed this rather badly in the current economic climate and I do tend to er on the belief that you have the choice to change jobs if you\’re not happy with the conditions (incl. pay). I think there is a realistic possability that if the strike \’wins\’ in that there are pay rises the government could well turn \’round and suggest that they still have only the same amount of budget = job losses.
     
        The media are very difficult to believe, I rarely believe anything that\’s \’fed\’ to me on the news and I find it difficult to even watch some documentaries due to me wanting to question the \’facts\’, there are frequently very biased views and the reporter (in my opinion) usually forces (to a degree) their view. I now no longer even bother buying newspapers because some of the articles based on research are pitiful (articles based on poor quality research).
     
         It\’s a shame that in a \’free country\’ (?) that balanced views aren\’t taken into account and that the media put spin on everything. I think it\’s sad.

  17. Sredni says:

    Ian, you aren\’t exactly a stranger to the use of loaded language yourself, are you?  "Industrial action" is a weasel phrase if ever there was one: but it sounds so much more measured and reasonable than "strike" or "go-slow".Strikes ARE threatened (rather than discussed or planned), because the sole purpose of striking is to force the other side to do something that it otherwise wouldn\’t do.You say that the media are wrong to highlight inconvenience and/or real loss and suffering caused by strikes.  As the whole point of a strike is to inflict such damage – whether to an employer, its customers, or the public at large – it would surely be "partisan", "disingenuous", and "bad" to ignore it.  I am old enough to have been an adult during the winter of discontent: it was shameful.  Its continuing notoriety is something for which the unions and their sympathisers have no one to blame but themselves.I am also old enough to have been forced into membership of the National Union of Railwaymen because it had a closed shop agreement with British Rail.  No union dues, no job: perilously close to extortion, I\’d say.  But you still wonder why union leaders are called "bosses" or barons".

  18. Trevor says:

    In response, the press does not completely reflect the opinion of the masses, the truth being that the press is largely controlled and manipulated by a few with their own party political ideals and preferences. I do believe it is both crude and irresponisble as is much reporting today, sensationalist and in reality very poor journalism. The press holds to much sway into todays political forum, which is clearly displayed in all recent policies of the tories, maybe they should get the editors of these papers on their front bench, in reality it would make little difference. No I am not a public sector worker and thank god for that, because they are abused quite literally from all corners. People ask why society is going so wrong, crime is on the rise etc, maybe, just maybe its because families work harder than ever before, with even smaler rewards for their services reflected more in public sector than private sector, longer hours, lower wages, meaning less quality time with the family and less time to spend with their children.

  19. Louise says:

    Its quiet simple… Thanks to the wonderful enconomic climate we are in, I have already been made redundant once this year, but didn\’t qualify for a pay out! I thankfully managed to find another job, but its at lower pay… Of course I want more, I want what I used to have… but if I asked let alone went on strike, with the way things are I would almost certainly be out of job no 2 in less than 6 months!  
    So it really galls me when other people, who are all adults capable of signing employment contracts decide they don\’t like the one they have and start chucking their dollies out of the pram.. and yes they are making demands… They are sitting in a meeting room having a conversation are they?
    They chose the jobs, they agreed to the T & C\’s including pay…
    Whats more they have far more perks than the private sector, flexi working, masses of holidays.. They really need to get some perspective and deal with a reality.
    In today\’s economic climate, most of us in the private sector won\’t get pay rises and work a dam site harder for our money… no flexi working, long term sick and certainly no final salary pension!  So what makes them any more special… so some of the jobs aren\’t that glamouress… why do it then?  They have choices…
    I\’m ranting now I know, but it is something I feel stongly about, why should they get a pay rise so far above inflation when the rest of us are keeping our fingers crossed that we still have jobs!

  20. Allan says:

    I am a union rep, not for UNITE, the main union involved in the current situation but in a another industry.  I became a rep, not under the pretence that most people that have commented here, that I am either a bully, a thug or a commie.  I am neither a member of the labour party but a liberal.  It has always been a great concern of mine the publics image of unions and also union members.
    The workers involved in the current dispute won\’t have taken the decision to strike lightly, bare in mind they will not be getting paid and when people with a family are only on a low wage the loss of a days pay is very hard to take.  People please consider though that the only tool that many employee\’s have is the right to remove the only asset they have and that is there service and it is not done out of a malicous intent but as a last choice. 
    Believe it or not most union officials and members do not like industrial action, it means that a breakdown in communication has happened between the workforce and the employer.  Unions are not in existence to bully but to ensure a good working relationship between the two sides and to see that workers are well treated as is everyones basic human right in 2008.
    I\’m ashamed to think people of the same great country as me can think so ill of fellow country folk on a low wage asking for a fair deal.  The problem I feel is more of an indication of were we are heading as a nation of self before others were it is common to think I don\’t get so others shouldn\’t.
    Good luck to the workers!
     

  21. Ken says:

    Dear Misunderstood,
    Your posting underlines the reason Unions and Strikers are reported in the way they are.
    Why the hell should the rest of use help you have an easy time. In your eyes workers should work less get paid more and spend more time at home.
    If your job doesnt provide what you need find another.
    More power to the free press

  22. Unknown says:

    I am a public sector worker – for a local authority.  I take pride in my job, helping communities to do things for themselves, including elderly, disabled and low paid. 
     
    Reading through the comments I have been likened to a terrorist, lazy, attention seeking, useless and stupid!  This is just from writing comments on a  blog.  I have been sworn at, spat at, threatened and nearly assaulted in my day to day job to keep areas safe from yobs and hoodies (newspaper speak again). 
     
    Its all very well people complaining about us but we face criticism from members of the public, councillors, central government, business and practically all sections of the community, whilst most of these people dont take responsibility for their own actions.  When someone says "they should do something"  who are they?? Usually us!
     
    We don\’t get bonuses, perks and where is my final salary pension? (I think the poster who said this is mixing us up with central government.  I have to work until I\’m 68 (as do most working people so no difference there!), and put up with long hours, some of which is not reimbursed (not entitled to overtime)  goodwill runs high in most dedicated Council Officers and without that you would probably see even more failures.
     
    In other posts I\’ve seen people say "why don\’t we stand up to the government"  but why when people do, do you guys come and and say "sack \’em all!" 
     
    Its not just a pity me attitude its a fight for what is right and fair, if we got a 6% rise it sets a precedence for other workes, if the cost of living etc was cheaper we wouldn\’t need it, and neither would most of you.

  23. Ken says:

    Dear Union rep,
    Thank you for your views although I think the are at odds with the majority.
    To the point that the strikers are not getting paid…….
    1. Overtime to clear backlog.
    2. The rest of us will pay in some way to cover the lack of services in one way or another.
    3. What right have you to dictate how I spend my hard earned cash.
    Let the press report this mess how they see fit

  24. Trevor says:

    The Choice is Ours, I am afraid your patronistic attack what misdirected, I am not a public sector worker, nor am I on a low salary, However I do completely support there actions. And even more so after I have read some of the belittling responses off such unintelligible and misinformed protagonists as yourself. This country is sadly heading at full speed to becoming a self obsessed nation, its time to stand up for our own and reprioritise our actions in supporting the people we share this land with.

  25. Trevor says:

    The Choice is Ours, I am afraid your patronistic attack was misdirected, I am not a public sector worker, nor am I on a low salary, However I do completely support their actions. And even more so after I have read some of the belittling responses off such unintelligible and misinformed protagonists as yourself. This country is sadly heading at full speed towards becoming a self obsessed nation, its time to stand up for our own and reprioritise our actions in supporting the people we share this land with. We are born equally and so should respect others views and actions, people are not clones.
     
    I apologise for reposting this piece, I wished to correct some mistakes

  26. Ken says:

    Patronising, nope just my opinion, if thats how you find my opinion it follows its you with the problem.
    And do not bring the issue of who we share this land with and pay, through our sitting down part, to support.
    The press have got this subject bang on (thats what this blogs about) although I am guilty of wandering off the issue.

  27. Jay says:

    We are indeed born equal but do not make equal choices. Some people are givers and others are takers……………….mmmmm let me gues where i stand on what i think these strikers are doing!!!

  28. Allan says:

    1.I don\’t know what back log Lollypop people will get overtime for and also most councils have said the only collections will be the next weeks or in a fortnight, whenever you councils collect, phone them up find out some facts?
    2. I don\’t feel my views are at odds with the majority, I don\’t know what the majority vote is, and neither do you, you have just read a  few opinions on a blog.
    3. I nor other workers dictate how you spend you hard earned cash, that is your choice, but people/ workers have a right to an opinio when they feel agrieved, we live in a democratic country do we not?
    I will not question the damage done by trade unions in the past, during the 70\’s they were far from a positive institution.  I is no,longer the 1970\’s now though and please don\’t judge todays unions and workers by past standards, no more than you would judge a child for a parents crimes.
    I for one do not want a return to the militant stance of old school unions but I do want workers treated in a fair way.
    It is a pity when people read in to comments my self and others like me that we want people to do less for more pay, it is a cheap comment and opinion of someone either unwilling or unable to come up with a stong argument.
    The workers in question are paid less in real terms than they were ten to twenty years ago, but if they all walked away who would be left to clear up the mess?

  29. Andrew says:

    Striking (along with Trade unions) belong in the past, they have very little positive to say. On the whole, they promote tension & feed their members with false hope that they can get huge pay rises. My wife used to work in a town hall (for a private company not for the council), one day UNISON were on strike, my wife (not a union member, is paid a lot less than council workers & with no pension) tried to get to work. On the way in she was harrased, shouted at, pushed, called all sorts of disgusting names & was basically threatened by strikers because she was trying to do a days work. If this is what trade unions are about then they can rot as far as I care.
     
     
     
     
     
     

  30. Valkyrie says:

    When economic times are good the private sector justifies it\’s larger salaries on the basis of risk taking and job insecurity. Now times are bad… I expect some commentators would also demand the cost of food and fuel to rise below inflation.
    when one comentator says
    "but if I asked let alone went on strike, with the way things are I would almost certainly be out of job no 2 in less than 6 months!"
    she should recognise the fundamental purpose of being in a union, to protect the weak individual from being exploited by the more powerful. (I know there\’s more to this argument on both sides.)
     
     
    Anyway, leaving aside entirely the present council worker dispute. Thank you editor for this choice. It was very interesting to read your article and follow the links to  http://www.gla.ac.uk/centres/mediagroup/ . I found it very much engaging, raising much broader questions as to how the media functions in the UK. The answer to which is of fundamental importance to the democratic process.
    regards

  31. Unknown says:

    A below inflation pay increase? Big woo – in fifteen years paid employment, with the exception of promotions, I have never had a pay increase of more than 50% of inflation. Unlike many of my friends, I work for a charity, not the public sector, and I am sick and tired of them moaning about their \’below inflation\’ pay rises when they\’re usually double or more than I can hope for! Yes, they do a good job, but does anyone honestly believe that people in the private sector are less valuable or do less work than those in the public sector?

  32. Unknown says:

    Crystal Flame sums up the issue perfectly.
     
    Many of us working in the Private Sector, are expected to work longer hours, for more demanding bosses, without the safety net of unions & sympathetic HR departments. I can\’t think of any postition that I\’ve ever held, where taking my employer to court over being forced to wear a tie, or some similar frivolous claim, would not have seen me dismissed. Ditto striking over my salary not keeping up with the cost of living. In the Private Sector, the answer would be…"If you can get more elsewhere, feel free to leave."
     
    It has long since been prooved that Public Sector workers are just as well paid as Private Sector workers, for doing the same job. Plus, the Public Sector workers usually have far more generous sickness, holiday travel & pension schemes. Where exactly do you Public Sector workers think all the extra money to make your life comfortable, comes from?
     
    One again the pampered Public Sector expect the tax payer to subsidise their existance & I am sick of it. As others have said, don\’t you people read your contracts, when you sign them? Why on earth do you expect your T&C\’s to improve, when this isn\’t happening in the Private Sector. Oh for another Thatcher to cut loose some of the dead weight, in our Public Sector!

  33. Jay says:

    point 3…………..they are trying to dictate how i spend my money by imposing more tax- who else is going to pay them? And in a democratic society it is right to hold us to ransom? I dont want to pay them more as it is. We have enough mess paying as we do now let alone give even more away. They can let me know as their boss *(tax payer) how they feel and i will tell them what i think. They can be as opinionated as they like just as i am where i work, but the only opinion that matters is productivity and value for money.
     
    And if they are getting less in real terms than they were 20 years ago, well, more fool them for chosing that job then!!!!
     
    Let them try working in the private sector and see how long they will last with that attitude- u know, where u have to justify why u should get a payrise through your input to that company.

  34. Unknown says:

    I dont understand the topic title…\’why the press hate strikes\’ – the press loves strikes, its news and therefore can be sensationalised. Lots of people could claim that they are misrepresented in the press, it happens. Its ironic that the author chose to highlight what a BBC presenter said when the BBC is left-wing anyway as traditionally are unions. Personally I dont like the overt left-wing bias thats wormed its way in to bbc reporting – its less impartial than it used to be. But I cannot accept the press hates strikes…it benefits them if they do it and if not the story is free.

  35. Allan says:

    Jay, I can\’t qustion what matters is productivity and value for money, because what you say is true and I also as tax payer want the most for the pound that I pay that I can get.  The only problem I see in the argument you aim at the problem is if we as tax payers(we are not their boss, we are customers) if tax has rissen but wages in real terms has gone down, where has the money gone?  not to, in your eyes the dictators, this is a question that needs asking.
    To say more fool them for choosing a job that pays less than it used to is too me a vet calous thing to say, people take employment sometimes where they can get it and I feel grateful to those that do jobs that I would not be prepared to do, I consider that a very valuable input to soceity not just a company.
    I can\’t believe people in 2008 are calling for a thatcher style culling of "dead weight".
    Do the people forget the mess the NHS is currently in under the plans originated in the tory era, the councils as they are under schemes originated in the tory era and not corrected in the "new" labour era and the housing market on the brink of collapse due to the greed of the private sector not the public sector?
    Please people, don\’t think in the way I get no change in my t and c\’s, or pay why should anyone else, think, how do I change my situation, Britain is becoming a selfish nation and peoples comments on here have truely backed this up.
    People have sid people know the t and c\’s when they sign, that is true, but it doesn\’t meen they can\’t seek to change once they are working under them, if through history people had taken this mind set, slavery would never of been abolished, child labour would still exist in this country, before we question people challenging what they have, think what past challenges have given us.
    I don\’t just back public sectors getting a better deal, I believe many companies in the private sector could treat employees vastly better and I\’m sure many of the people on strike at the moment would agree.

  36. dave says:

    The press have usually been biased painting a hugely distorted picture of the disputes I have experience of. I used to be a union rep, but am currently working in the private sector and am unrepresented. My pay rises depend on performance, and are limited by banding within my role. Until recently it was considered a disciplinary offence to discuss my salary with other members of staff. The current dispute for local authority workers, like all disputes, has two sides. No-one wants to pay more council tax, but you need to take a good look at where the waste is that causes the increases. Wages alone won\’t do it. Well, I\’m glad I got that lot off my chest, back to work!!

  37. Louise says:

    I like the suggestion that, just because I had been made redundant .. I should join a union.
    How would that have helped?  I wasn\’t made redundant illegally if I had been I would have taken my own action.
    Secondly, I am in a job where being a member of a union is all bar impossible!
    I was made redundant as due to the down turn in our economic climate (speifically the housing market) there simply wasn\’t sufficient work for me! How could a Union have helped me?
    I am still on tender hooks now as a watch the situation worsen, and wonder for how long I will have the job that I was lucky enough to find!  How can a Union help?
    Friends of mine made redundant before xmas in the same job, still have not found work… Could a union help them?
    My Dad was a member of a Union, he asked for advice, on a job issue, which they gave and he took… and thanks to them and there in correct advise (as later confirmed by their appointed solicitor) he has now been unemployed going on 2 years… Union didn\’t help there did they?
    To me Unions do little more than rally the less commercially aware up into a frenzey to stamp and scream… without thinking of the potential outcomes.
    So the government workers get a 6% pay rise lucky them… How much more are the rest of us going to be paying in tax ( on our salaries that have no pay rise at all) to cover this!
    Their behaviour is completely ill thoughtout and certainly not appropriate in our current economic climate.
    Jay… I couldn\’t agree with you more.
    To the person I seem to have offened with reference to finally salary pensions… I am personally aware of some non central government personnel who do have a finally salary pension.. Whether that is you or not, you still have to admit you have a lot more perks than the private sector! holidays, sick travel…

  38. Harold says:

    The press are opinion/attitude formers ( or so they think ) .. therefore Politicians lick up to them ( Murdoch/Labour Party) .. an arrangement exists between Newspapers and the Politically Powerful .. Newspapers become an arm of Government .. Governments do not like Strikes , because they as managers of UK Plc are seen as incompetent.  Is any of this a shocking revelation to anyone ?

  39. martin says:

    The main argument against unions taking action to defend members pay and conditions seems to be from those in the private sector who have allowed their own pay and conditions to be driven down, job security weakened and pensions robbed all with little or no resistance and now resent those in the public sector for what used to be standard benefits of employment. Instead of wishing for public sector workers to have their pay slashed, pensions robbed and job security taken wouldnt it be better for the private sector to get organised and fight back against the attack on your own pay and conditions?

  40. fred says:

    Union\’s came into being, and exist primarily to prevent the unscrupulous employer/owner from taking advantage of the worker ie. the body which hires it labour, strikes are merely the act of withholding this labour.  Unfortunately, today the Union\’s have been nullified and neutred to a great extent by those who purport to be of the \’Up the workers!\’ element, yeah the Baron\’s so-called who have made getting fat off the back of the worker an art form,  at the end of the day, so long as we get a fair day\’s pay for a fair day\’s pay, and we are not taken advantage of and exploited we are happy, and at the end of the day work is only a means to an end (to provide for a more comfortable future) and our loyalty to the company is only there because we are paid by them, we are not interested in all the trendy smoke-screen issues such as diversity training, women\’s issues, black awareness, gay rights, you may argue until the cows come home about how laudable all these are but in the grand scheme of things they have nothing to do with the job in hand, and all the money wasted on these side-issues have no part in my  working day, but what they do is divert monies to counter the billions in the coffers of the Government and media in the war for \’peoples hearts and minds\’ . Remember the old adage, THE ONLY ONE WHO WILL SHAFT THE WORKER, IS THE WORKER!

  41. Andrew says:

    Why do union supporters automatically think that if someone is striking then they have a cause to do so? Unions, like ALL organisations, are looking after their own interests. Union leaders earn very, very good money and get all sorts of expenses so it is in their own interests to whip up a frenzy and convince their members that they can get an above inflation increase and if their demands (\’cause that is exactly what they are) are not met then a strike has to be recommended. This gives the union a purpose "we\’re fighting for you", membership fee\’s are justified and the union carries on.
     
    They need to get some real economic understanding here. First, if an above inflation deal is awarded to all the striking workers (500,000 on strike apparently) then workers not on strike will get the rise as well, eventually it could well be close to 1 million workers getting well above inflation. This WILL have an effect on the inflation figures. Currently at 3.8%, we could easily see 4.5% by the end of the year (maybe even higher) this would be home grown inflation (currently all inflation is imported from Oil and food which cannot be controlled). Therefore interest rates WILL rise, and rise very fast because the BOE & Govt are Sh** scared of inflation getting out of control (more scared of inflation than a recession – recessions take a year or two to come out of, spiralling inflation can take decades). So, strikers, who will you blame when your mortgage rates go up by 1% or 2%? And all the extra you got from your strike action is swallowed up (and then some) on your mortgage and council tax bills?

  42. martin says:

    In response to Andy. Unions are looking after members interests and that means getting an getting yearly rise in line with inflation. Union leaders dont are very reluctant to strike and have to be pushed into it by members. It is members that vote to go on strike. Why is it that people presume that union members have no economic understanding when they have a better understanding of economics than you yourself have demonstrated by your post. UNISON members were offered 2.4% when CPI is 3.8, RPI is 4.6 and these are just the fiddled ONS figures, inflation in the real world is double that.It is the BoE job to keep inflation down to 2% by raising interest rates, but they consistantly fail to do their job.There is no economic evidence that proves giving workers wage increases as per inflation leads to further inflation.Wages have not increased for the last 10 years even though we have had an economic boom. Instead workers have beenusing savings and have got into huge amounts of debt to maintain their standard of living. Workers have been spending tomorrows wages today. The econonomic boom based on debt and the biggest housing boom this countries ever seenhas now burst and like after all previous bubbles will push us into a recession. If people hadnt been encouraged to extortionate amounts of money to buy houses then mortgage rates going up a few percent to counter inflation would have not been a problem. The people in the City who caused the sub prime crises by selling mortgages to people who never in a million years could have paid them off are to blame for the credit crunch and for their greed they get bailed out at tax payers expense. People in the UK and USA are about to experiance a severe reduction in their standard of living. They will moan and whine as they lose their jobs and houses and wonder who it is to blame, when its there own stupidity and lack of any sort of fight to stop it from happening.

  43. Matthew says:

    I\’m always quite amused when people start talking about tax payers vs public servants. Us public servants ARE tax payers, we pay exactly the same tax, NI, council tax, VAT, etc that you do. Everytime your costs go up, ours do also.
     
    Now to comments that we want more money for less work. Between 2003 to 2008 the national population of Britain has gone from 59.8 to about 61 million, so an increase of about 1 million over five years. In that same period the number of civil servants in the UK dropped from 535,000 to 490,000 and the government wants to decrease it even further.
     
    So in 2003 there was one civil servant for about every 112 UK residents, now there is about one civil servant for every 125 UK residents. Now this isn\’t taking into consideration that the government has made more and more people dependant on the state trough benefits. When the government announces new things like more winter fuel allowance who do you think does the work for that? We do and generally for no extra money.
     
    With regard to things like the media\’s reporting on our "gold plated" pensions I have to work into my 60\’s to get my full pensions and I\’m on the premium pension, on that pension (which is no longer available) the earliest I could retire was 56 and that was if I started at 16 years old and worked continuosly for 40 years within the civil service without taking a single strike day or other non-paid leave. The early retirements you are reading about are deals struck between workers and government because the government wants to reduce the headcount of the civil service, its not a part of our pension package and is not a definite option.
     
    Also our pensions look better because the government ruined yours, the same government that has ben voted in year after year. Civil servants went on strike to protect their pensions, what did you do to protect yours? Nothing! The general public have ultimate power over the government, you can remove them from power but you didn\’t, YOU gave them the thumbs up to keep screwing you over.
     
    The government are guilty over
    Destroying the pension system
    Wasting tax payer money on failed initiatives (The NHS database springs to mind)
    Creating a complex tax system that creates the need for more civil servants
    Raising your taxes while reducing public services (partly through reducing public servants)
    Mismanaging the UK economy
    Stealing from you through unchecked expenses
    The list goes on.
     
    What are civil servants guilty of?
    Want an inflation matching pay rise
    Want to keep our pensions
    And protecting our lower paid workers – The reason the average public servant wage is greater than the private sector is because the government sold our cafeteria staff, cleaners and other minimum wage jobs to private companies. The pay hasn\’t really gone up they\’ve just removed the lower numbers.
     
    For years you have let the government get away with abusing you by failing to hold them to account for their mistakes. We aren\’t. But for that reason we are painted the devils and the government will be painted as angels "for protecting the needs of the tax payer" by screwing over the last bit of resistance they are facing from TAX PAYING, hard working, voting members of the public.
     
    Do your research, check your figures. More or better paid civil servants don\’t mean higher taxes, we have paid HIGHER taxes for LESS civil servants.

  44. Sam says:

    Personally I think that strikes are only taken as a final measure, when nothing else is getting a fair response. If people feel the need to strike then it\’ll be a decision that wasn\’t invented on a whim, its not like "I\’m bored, what shall I do? I know I\’ll go on strike tomorrow!", its done because there is no other option. The teachers striking a few months ago, the cause was just, yet they were declared the bad guys. I appreciated most of my teachers, one was a prat but the rest were good people and capable of doing their jobs, they put up with the abuse of stupid kids for hours a day and taking inflation into account get less money for their work (their pay increase for the year was below inflation).
    Strikes aren\’t done as a joke, they\’re done as a desperate measure to ensure that the people in those jobs keep their rights.
    As far as I\’m concerned, all the recent numbers of strikes does is proves that the government is making a mess of our country. Ok yeah, we all knew that already, but these strikes highlight ways some of us mightn\’t have noticed before. Personally I\’m looking to the government we elected and wondering "What have we done? Are we due to go back to stealing, killing, living like savages in time?" These questions are there because the government is allowing crime to run wild, and as the teachers strike I\’ve already mentioned highlights, ensuring people actually loose out on money to pay for things they need. Uncontrolled crime, lack of money, leads to a lot more crime because people can get away with it.
    All I can do, is say that I truly hope the Government can solve the problems its caused soon, if it doesn\’t I don\’t want to know what sort of a life I\’ll be living in the UK in 10 years time.

  45. jennifer says:

    Anyone who sticks their head up above the parapet is a potential target for the media – not just strikers.  The media run this country now by manipulating public opinion but whoever tries to curb them will face the full onslaught.  I never voted for them media and to me the british media is the biggest threat to democracy.  Get rid of the 24/7 news channels that they fill with drivel and lets have some factual reporting rather than opinions dressed up as fact

  46. Philip says:

    "Oh for another Thatcher !" cries an idiot.
     
    We really need 5 or 6 million people without jobs to get the country out of the mess almost totally created by the greed of the banks ( private sector ).
    Do you not remember the daily list of thousands of more people joining the queue for jobs ?
    She created the selfish society we now live in and to ask for more of her medicine will lead to even more suffering.
     
    And don\’t ask about her state funeral.
    I will be cheering her coffin into the ground !

  47. Emma says:

    I can understand to a point (and it is a small point) why these people are striking, yes they are doing an important job, but isn\’t everyone else? In this current climate they should be grateful that they have a job as there are many people out there who are struggling to find work.  I am a part – time barmaid who is paid the national minimum wage, which is £5.52 an hour, my partner is a courier who works alot of hours  for £240 a week. We also have 2 children under the age of 5 to care for and look after and also a flat  to run  with all the bills assossiated with running a home. We only recieve child tax credit and child benifit and we pay for everything ie rent and council tax. Yes i understand that the cost of living has gone up, but we just grit our teeth and get on with it. Like i said before, l understand that you do an important job but wake up and open your eyes, there is alot of people out there, whos job is as important,  who are getting paid alot less than you are but are just getting on with what they do.To be honest, you\’re all going on about fair pay? if it was fair everyone no matter what job they do would be getting the same pay.I\’m sorry if i\’m ranting but these people didn\’t have to face an upset 4 year old when he was told he couldn\’t go to his nursery school.

  48. Matthew says:

    Emma,
     
    Before I was promoted to supervisor grade I was on exactly the same money as your husband. I don\’t have children but if I did I would have the same expenses as your husband and the same credits/benefits. You aren\’t getting paid a lot less than us, thats the newspapers making it out that you are. The job I was doing was being paid the average for clerical work in my area.

  49. Robert says:

    Don\’t government workers realise how lucky they are?  If a private sector worker wants to Index Link their pension, their annual pension is cut by a 1/2 – and thus virtually no one takes this option.  Therefore aged 90, ex public sector are wealthy whearas non-public sectors are poor (a £10,000 pension 30 years later is worth a few thousand due to inflation, wheras the public sector pension grows with inflation).  Public Sector pensions are the best in the world, and are worth £1000\’s  every year. 
     
    The main reason for Local councils putting up COuncil Tax is to fund these expensive pensions – therefore – if these greedy public sector workers – who should realise they are lucky to have a job – especially in the current climate of increased unemployment, want an increase in their wage – they should agree to the removal of the indexation of their pension!!

  50. Matthew says:

    We aren\’t lucky, we just didn\’t bend over and take it when the government started raiding OUR national pensions. We are standing up for ourselves as workers, you aren\’t and perhaps if you did those few years ago then you wouldn\’t be in the position you are now.
     
    You shouldn\’t be accusing us of being greedy for fighting for a fair deal when you didn\’t.

  51. JAMES says:

    I think these people are just plain geedy.  Most of them get paid £30,000 plus a year and they have the nerve and cheek to say that they don\’t get paid enough for what they do.  Join the frickin army and lets see what sort of life you will lead then.  I am a married Cpl in the army and my wife works part time (minimum wage of course because the army move us every 3 years which means its hard to get to a position in a company where there can be a promotion).  We don\’t work to live, we work to survive and we find it a struggle to make ends meet each month.  We hardly ever go out (I think we have been out 3 or 4 times since I moved to the UK 8 months ago).  These people that strike are just taking advantage of the fact that no matter what, they will get their own way as the government and companies that employ them have no choice but to meet their demands as they cannot themselves afford to have the daily bussiness interupted.  Like I said, join the army and then lets see you complain, and if you do decide to strike, you will be arrested and sent to jail as you have no "rights" on that subject.  We get a "massive 2.4% pay rise each year ( which for me this year was a huge £300 per year, before tax of course).  Get a grip of yourselves and wake up to the fact that you get a hell of lot more money for sitting on your arses than what wedo in the army for putting our lives on the line.

  52. GORDON says:

    The work force of this country are not stupid and are aware that the money they loose by going on strike, they will never regain. However this is a very expensive country to "exist in " and there does come a point where you are forced to stand up for yourselves as your standard of living drops like a stone or people ( your employers ) will just walk all over you. In an ideal world everyone would get treated fairly and there would not be a need to go on strike – BUT THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. So if your affected by industrial action tough luck and give the manager\’s of the companys involved a good kicking also, for their unflexible attitude to the staff.

  53. wayne says:

    we go on strike  because  some of us havent had a rise for 5 years i am a bin man in coventry and we are not lucky i would like some of you people to be in our shoes with  the single status  we will  lose near 5 grand what  do you say to mr bank manager sorry this morgage  ive  taken out 3 years ago  i cant  afford to pay  it  now i am on 5 grand    less  .people these  day just rollover   and give up  no back bone  we cant afford to strike but its the only way to go so people listen an as for the pensions there not worth a the paper there  written i will have to work till i an 85 to get  any thing  decent a we want is a fair deal get it right  the main reasson the council tax is going up is to fund the in flux of immagrants  that are bringing  the n.h.s  to its knees wake up mr no name mr no balls     strike  1 strike   2 strike  3  your out lol

  54. Matthew says:

    James,
     
    £30,000? Where did you get that figure from? In the civil service that\’s a sector managers wage! In DVLA (who\’ve post-poned their strikes) the majority of the permenant staff are on less than £14,000 a year which is in line with the pay for all centre work such as NTL, HSBC, etc.
     
    Though if given the choice between and inflation matching pay-rise and fair treatment for the armed services I\’d go with the army. I\’ve worked with plenty of army wives and the deal you guys get is dreadful. Please don\’t take offence but we are both being treated badly by the government, through wages, working conditions and equipment, the main difference being that unlike you guys our inferior conditions won\’t cost us our lives.

  55. wayne says:

    keep up the good work people  lets show  them were not going to back down .   unite and fight and strike strike strike  every things gone up petrol  food  if peoples bins dont get emptied  may be people will listen ive got a family ive got kids i dont  like to strike does anyone  we dont   get no money for strike  action  next mouth  will be very hard for use but i thats what it takes so be it  thanks people peace 

  56. paddy says:

     I cannot believe some of the comments from previous contributors, most of the negative attitudes display a distinct lack of knowledge of the wage structure within Local Government and the Civil Service.
    I will retire in two years time from my \’cushy\’ Civil Servic job and the exorbitant pension I will receive amounts to  £4000.00 per annum, that will make me a very rich 90 year old especially as this will also be taxed!!
    For years Local Government and Civil Service workers have been subjected to a cut in their living standards basically because we are an easy target and are constantly villified in the media as not contributing to the economy and being paid high wages and receiving an excessive pension at the end of it. Public servants are actually claiming Tax Credits to supplement their wages, how can we be the couse of inflation when our pay deals effectively mean a pay cut!!
    Currently pay deals in the private sector are running at just over 4%, all we want is a fair deal and if we don\’t make a stand and say enough is enough matters will only get worse and to the soldier you knew what occupation   you were taking up so stop using emotional language

  57. wendy says:

    I work part-time in local government and I feel dreadful that we are letting people down by striking, but as others have said, it is a last resort! I work part-time to try and fit round my children, to try and cut down on child care costs and still my wages last 3 weeks and not 4. So, each month I am relying on my overdraft, which is getting bigger, to just pay my day to day bills, eg. gas, electric, food, and I am also lucky that my Dad has now resorted to bringing us food parcels every time he visits. How can this be right in this modern day and age?What example are we setting our children, having to live on hand-outs, getting excited when we manage to buy food greatly reduced by visiting supermarkets as they are about to close for the day?I am sorry to everyone inconvenienced by this strike, but, what else can we do??

  58. Unknown says:

    James,
    I was an army wife, my husband served 22 years and now pays the price mentally and physically. I worked throughout the time he served, experiencing the same difficulties your own wife does regarding pay and progression. I work with children and families, and have done for 20 years. I have been in the same local government job for 5 years and earn £14,000 per annum for working full-time with no opportunity for paid overtime. I regularly work with agency staff who have little commitment and even less experience, if any at all, who are paid more than me for doing the same job. Service users can receive a substandard service as a result of this, even though their council tax pays for it. I have been on strike today and yesterday, and picketed my place of work. We are lucky we live in a country where we can peacefully protest for what we believe to be right, and we have the likes of you and my husband to thank for that right. Ask your wife if she woud be happy to accept my level of pay after 20 years of working hard to help hard working people. Eveyone has the right to comment, make your comment informed. Well done to everyone who has stood up to be counted, we will sleep better than those who didn\’t!

  59. Sally says:

    At a time when inflation is rising, a strike and request for a 6% pay rise (as reported on the news) will only push inflation higher, which will force the MPC to increase the base rate to combat inflation (the main tool the bank of england have)
     
    This means that most people who get a pay rise will see this money lost almost immediately on an increase on the cost of their mortgage payments (if the mpc need to increase the base rate). Quite an own goal.
     
    The head of the bank of england requested last month that employers did not give payrises, not to be a pain in the backside of every hard working person, but because payrises mean too much money chasing too few goods which equals an increase in prices.
     
     The only way to combat the huge inflation that this country faces is to raise the base rate, or request that payrises are held while prices begin to stabilize. It\’s tough time at the moment for everyone – I\’m on a low income too , i struggle, i have 2 children under 3 and have had no pay rise for 3 years, but I would rather have no pay rise and let the MPC do their job and get a grip of our inflation issues, rather than see a repeat performance of the "if it isn\’t hurting it isn\’t working" interest rates of 15% last seen in the 90\’s.
     
    It shouldn\’t be us v them – public sector v\’s private sector, the whole country needs to pull together on this one, no one goes on strike without good reason as no one can afford to loose the wages, but looking at the bigger picture the bank of england and the government need to control / lower inflation and ideally sort out the petrol / fuel fiasco so that living in the uk is affordable again and people wouldn\’t need to strike in the first place !!

  60. Andrew says:

    Fudge, I really don\’t know how you can say I have no understanding of economics from my last post. It really is just the most basic of economic understanding. Wages chase prices & prices chase Wages.
    Second, UNISON are demanding 6%! That IS an inflation busting pay deal and would lead to countless other workers & unions demanding the same. This IS inflationary, large increases in wages IS a cause of inflation. When the wage/price spiral get\’s going it is almost impossibe to stop without a severe recession.
     
    How you can say workers haven\’t had a wage increase in ten years is beyond me. They may not have had an above inflation pay increase but why should they? No one has a right to an above inflation pay rise, The only \’real\’ pay increases I have had over the past ten years are when I have taken it upon myself to learn new skills and get another job. In 14 years of working in the private sector I have never had an anual pay inncrease over 2.5%, no one I know in the private sector has either, it really annoys me when public workers think that the private sector get these fantastic wage increases!
     
    As for people spending their savings and getting into debt to maintain a standard of living, well tough! If you have to borrow to buy a large screen TV or a new car then you must know what you are getting into. No one forces you to sign that loan agreement. People need to take responsibility for their own actions and can\’t go cap in hand demanding more money in wages just because they bought a house at 7 times their income when rates were 4%. Simply giving everyone a 6% pay rise now would only make the situation much, much worse than it already is. And with the amount of debt everyone is in (including Govt) it wouldn\’t be a recession on the cards but a depression.

  61. Chaz says:

    Perhaps "Andy" would like to tell us (truthfully!) what he does for a living and how much he earns.   Bet it isn\’t the lowly sums most people on this page are getting.  For the record I am near the top of a local authority (about 3 ranks down from CEO) and earn just over £30K, no paid overtime (although I am expected to do much unpaid overtime just to get my job done after round after round of "restructurings" and "rationalisations" which have left two thirds the people to do the same amount of work for no more renumeration).  For the last three years I have received an increase 1% below the published rate of inflation, along with all my council colleagues.  WHile I\’m not on strike (union memebership at my rank is "discouraged") I fully sympathise with those who are.

  62. littlemisstrouble says:

    I agree with Sally and I\’m old enough to remember the 70\’s where the constant clamour for higher wages just fuelled inflation – unfortunatley a lot of todays work force are not old enough to remember that.  I\’m a Unison member and I didn\’t strike.  If people can afford to give up 2 days pay and potentially more as the employers won\’t budge at the moment then how can they say they need more money?  I certainly can\’t and if I could I wouldn\’t be working the hours I do.  I can however reduce my outgoings by living more simply as I have had to before and weather this storm.  I pay my Union subs and expect them to sort out my pay negotiations.  They do nothing for me all year and when we do want them to do something for us they expect us to give up our wages for a couple of days. 

  63. sharon says:

    I am sick of all these people that can walk out of their job for a day to strike….. My husband is in the army, he4 has served in Iraq and Afghanistan several times and it is mentally and physically demanding on him and the family he leaves back home.  He is paid for 23 hours and 58 minutes a day so if you work this out over the year he is on approx £2.80 an hour, but can he walk out on strike…………….NO.  He serves his country and serves it well, but they are under paid, under manned and not respected that is of course until we have a disaster like 7/7 or the flooding last year etc.  Its about time that the Goverment starte to look after those that protect and serve their queen and country. 
     
    Toot as you pass they say, I wouldnt not if I was brying for all from one of them. Its as though the schools dont have enough days off per year with holidays and inset days and closures due to bad weather.. Do they actually work at all………..
     
    I absoultly dismiss you all..

  64. Oliver says:

    The economy at the moment on a whole isn\’t to health, Media can be quite a controlling influence, the reason it frowns upon the demand for wage rises, is it doesn\’t want to induce the inflationary spiral, which would just add to the problems in the economy,
     
    Sadly due to this the people that get by with the wages are massively effected by this, whilst people with the higher disposable income just cut down on luxuries.
     
    As for me i have 2 more years at uni i can only pray that the economy is a bit more healthy when i have finished. 

  65. littlemisstrouble says:

    We could all give up our broadband connection if we want to save some money 🙂

  66. Emily says:

    I just had to comment in response to Sharon. Firstly, I agree with your comments regarding servicemen, they do a sterling job with often very little recognition for exactly how hard they work. 
     
    Secondly however, I COMPLETELY disagree and am quite frankly outraged that you could question those of us who work in schools as to whether we actually work?! Yes, we get 13 weeks holiday a year etc., but the work that we put in during term time is immense! It\’s hard going at times working with children, controlling 30+ children at one time all day is very tiring! And it\’s not just during school hours we work, many more hours of planning, marking, preparing, report writing, paperwork etc. is required! So in answer to your question, do we actually work at all…well the answer is a resounding YES we do!!!
     
    Every single worker has the right to strike in my opinion regardless of how many weeks holiday you get a year.  As far as I\’m concerned, I\’m a member of a union, and they are there to support me.  When they ask me to support them by striking, I have no problem in doing so.  Whether working in schools or not, the right to strike should remain with the worker.

  67. c says:

    I have to say the original artical lacked information. Some of the comments were very detailed and sorry that I haven\’t read them all.
     
    With regards to the article, yes, I agree, the Press will always use certain words to \’demonise\’ certain sections of society who act in a particular way. But seeing as it is always \’certain sections of society\’ and not the mainstream, it makes sense for them to do so. To appear on the side of the majority, albeit sincere or not, will always sell papers. And hey, news is always recession-proof!
     
    As for the wider issue, it runs a bit longer and deeper than just the criticism of the current Government and the incumbent PM. People will always strive for more that they have and a better standard of living and industrial action is not a new concept. This is basic human instinct which has driven the many efficient ways of harnessing resouces, to make our lives \’supposedly\’ easier, that is causing the climate change debate today, et-al.
     
    Going to more recent times, it is easy to criticise the current Gov or the previous one. I do, just about, remember the aftermath of the Winter of Discontent, ie the election of Margaret Thatcher. She didnt do well for me, starting school in 1979 the first action I remember is the abolishion of free school milk. I loved my milk! I was milk monitor at 5 yrs old hahaha! She did well for lots of people though but the biggest challenge for people these days is the cost of housing.
     
    The Conservatives in that day introduced a right-to-but policy for council housing, but legislation prevented Local Authorities using the revenue gained to support a new supply of such accommodation. As a result, house prices began to rocket circa 1985 and have not stopped since. So while many will say they fully appreciate the benefits of such a scheme, have a thought for those working on what, if equated to 1980 levels would be a decent living wage, still can struggle to get by.
     
    I have particular thought for the London Underground cleaners getting by on the national minimum with a single room down here costing at least £300 per month let alone a family home!
     
    But the biggiest squander of all? The Government and Council offecers getting paid o dodgy contracts to bid-rigging contractors and brown envelopes from suppliers and consultants. This makes my tummy turn since I know full well there is enough to go round.
     
    If we can have a national strike against this kind of action, then count me in!

  68. Stu says:

    Public sector workers have no consideration for the alleged public they choose to serve. I have no choice, I have to pay my council tax (helping to fund ridiculous titled jobs, index linked pensions and services aimed at \’the minority\’ of this country) yet when they feel like striking those services I\’ve already had to pay for are withdrawn…… I\’m lucky, my wife works week-ends so we wouldn\’t have lost out had the schools been shut, but so many innocent people, many of whom are also on the breadline, lost one or two days pay this week due to your stupid actions. You maintain you can\’t afford to do this and that, but willingly throw away two days pay that you\’ll NEVER replace. My rubbish lies in the bin, a health and safety issue had my house been a factory, which no doubt the councils health inspectors would clamp down on – but surprise surprise its ok as the bin men are on strike and its a private house. If you dont like the pay its relatively simple – get a different job. You knew the situation when you took the job, you knew it didnt pay mega bucks, so whose fault is it? The local authority? The government? No, your own……… it aint rocket science, find a job you\’re happy with and quit bitchin to the rest of a hard workin but strugglin public that you pledged to serve when you signed that contract. 

  69. tom says:

    I completely agree with Sharon\’s comments I have several friends in the army and they do a amazing job out there and they deserve everyone\’s support.
     
    I would like to say to Natalie i disagree with the strikes that have taken place,  at the end of the day public or private sector we are all in the same boat.  You teachers may work very hard during term time but you still get 13 weeks of holiday a year,  I am employed in the finance industry at pretty much the lowest rung of the ladder and it isn\’t unknown for me to have to work huge long hours just to get my work completed and yes it is extremely tiring and yet I get 5 weeks holiday.  I don\’t recieve any extra money for doing extra hours as i have to do them to keep my job.  At the end of the day if you don\’t feel your getting enough money as a teacher or if its too much hard work then find another job.  I don\’t think any teacher can compare what they do or put it anywhere near to what our armed forces have to do everyday.
     
    In a ideal country we all should have the right to strike but in this day it is not exactly unheard of for strikes by hauliers etc to be moved on or diverted by the police.  Unfortunately its getting to a point in this country where it isnt a free country and where the government wants to completely dictate our lives for us.  In essence the government is slowly, behind closed doors trying to take away our right to strike which I believe is a important part of a democracy.
     
    I personally do not see what the strikes will accomplish with the pay increase as by giving a pay increase to the sriking workers the government will put more of a strain on a already stretched budget and not to mention the waves of all the other public sector workers that will come running forward for their pay rises!
     
     

  70. Matthew says:

    Actually pretty much every public sector worker considers the public they serve, we work hard to provide you with a service no matter how understaffed, under pressure or over abused we are. Check the figures, actuall assaults on rubbish collectors are at their highest EVER! yet they still go to work to provide you with a service, teachers during class time have faced physical assault, sexual assualt and even murder while teaching our children. Pretty much every public sector worker who deals with the public has suffered abuse by the very public they serve and still turn up to work to help them. If that\’s not showing consideration I don\’t know what is.
     
    What\’s funny though is that you\’ve hit the nail on the head and have completely missed the point. These strike actions are not on the spot ideas, they have to be agreed upon and notice given to the employer. The councils knew people would be going on strike, they knew there wouldn\’t be staff to perform those services and what have they done to alleviate the problem? Nothing.
     
    The councils have OUR money (we pay council tax just like you), this has not been given to the public sector workers. So instead of branding our actions stupid because your rubbish hasn\’t been collected how about you ask your local council exactly what they\’ve done with the money they taken off you for services THEY did not provide.
     
    And just to clear things up, public sector worker contracts aren\’t with tax payers. Public sector workers have a contract with their employer the same way you do. If we don\’t do the job thats agreed with them we don\’t get paid but thats the extent of our contract. You have a contract with the council or local government and they have to fulfil it, the thing is that when they don\’t fulfil their end of the contract they don\’t refund you and they blame us instead.
     
    Lets just put it this way, a chef tells their boss a month in advance that they are going to be away on a certain day and won\’t be paid for it. Now you call that company, speak to the boss and say you want a party for that day, the boss knowing the chef is off makes the booking and takes your money. You arrive at the restaurant on that day and get told by the boss that your booking has been cancelled because the chef has taken unpaid leave and the boss doesn\’t give you your money back. Who do you aim your complaint at?

  71. Les says:

    Where do people get this fictitious £30.000 a year from? I can assure you that the majority of council employees are earning far less than that e.g Cleaners £5.60 per hour, Caretakers £5.75 per hour the list goes on! Dont forget a lot of councils employ agency staff alongside council staff most of these workers are not commited and either retirement age or part-time. Sorry, but i think the council workers deserve better treatment than this its disgusting that a government can get away with such blatant disreguard for the Carers, Cooks, Cleaners, Nursery assistants, Classroom assistants etc etc. So next time you think that all council workers are all on "fat Cat" salaries think again!!!! One last thing council pensions are not indexed linked, and a worker only gets out what they pay in!
     

  72. Luke says:

    I\’d like to comment in support of this refreshing story.There is strength in the union. All workers should support strikes, it is the best bargaining chip we have left. The media will try and divide us against each other as Sharon\’s comment below proves. Remember everything the workers\’ movement has done for us- holidays, weekends, maternity leave, lunch breaks, health and safety rights, the NHS. Without what the ordinary working people do to lay the roads, keep the lights on and deliver public services, Sharon\’s family members in the Army would have nothing left to defend.We create all the wealth in this country and deserve a fair slice of the profits. Victory to the council workers.

  73. Lindsay-Kay says:

    Nurses should be allowed to strike. We\’re underpaid, under staffed, under resourced and under supported yet we don\’t have the right to strike. We work 12.5 hour shifts doing manual labour its an intense job (physically, mentally and emotionally) with huge responsibilities. The only \’strike\’ action you can legally take as a nurse is to refuse to fill in government documentation and refusing to work overtime. That\’s why we get walked over, what government listens to a workforce who despite being treated outrageously doesn\’t have the right to do anything decent about it?! There\’s no consequence for the givernment in not giving us a payrise all they see is nurses whinging because we can\’t take direct action so complain is all we can do. So I agree with the army staff on this issue, I think everyone should have the right to strike and I support everyone who does strike but if you are able to strike you\’re extremely lucky. Think of those that aren\’t so lucky.

  74. Ken says:

    (no name)18 July 00:09
    (http://cid-3d0d3be0d13effeb.spaces.live.com/)
    I\’d like to comment in support of this refreshing story.There is strength in the union. All workers should support strikes, it is the best bargaining chip we have left. The media will try and divide us against each other as Sharon\’s comment below proves. Remember everything the workers\’ movement has done for us- holidays, weekends, maternity leave, lunch breaks, health and safety rights, the NHS. Without what the ordinary working people do to lay the roads, keep the lights on and deliver public services, Sharon\’s family members in the Army would have nothing left to defend.We create all the wealth in this country and deserve a fair slice of the profits. Victory to the council workers.WHAT UTTER RUBBISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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